Listening to Starmer’s conference speech today felt like listening to Boris Johnson… lies, lies and more lies. There was little attempt to address the myriad of burning issues facing people in this country but plenty of glossing over. When he claimed that Labour had suddenly transformed into a party that could win elections I nearly spat out my tea! This from the man who aided and rewarded the saboteurs who worked to prevent Labour from winning two general elections and let’s not forget his own efforts to split the vote along Brexit lines leading up to the 2019 general election. Labour were well placed to win both the 2017 and the even the 2019 election and likely would have won if it hadn’t been for the hard right working feverishly to undermine both election campaigns. No doubt Starmer would love to rewrite history and airbrush over the amazing success of the Corbyn leadership and the 2017 election. By the way, just in case anyone needs to be reminded of what success looks like for a socialist Labour party…
Starmer sounds almost persuasive at times but then you remember that he sounded pretty persuasive during the Labour leadership campaign as well and he told a pack of lies then as well. Oh, and don’t get me started on the institutional Antisemitism that has now blossomed in the Labour party, under Starmer’s leadership, with Jewish members being disproportionately purged from the party. The fact is, Jews are now five time more likely to face Antisemitism charges than non Jewish members. The mass purging of left wing delegates and an orchestrated performance by the media and the parliamentary Labour Party gave the impression of support and unity under Starmer’s leadership, but this is as far from the truth as could possibly be imagined. The fact that the ‘Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU)’ had accused Starmer of implementing a “factional internal war,” and decided to disaffiliate from the Labour party the day before, was somehow neatly swept under the carpet.
At times it was painful to watch – almost every time a delegate stood up to heckle the fuhrer there would be a long rapturous applause designed to drown them out and cameras would cut to a huddle of Starmerite MPs standing up and applauding their leader. Worth paying attention to the low camera angles as well – low angles give the subject some stature. Crucially, they also avoid showing any angry dissenters in the crowd behind them.
There was also a fair spattering of ‘virtue by association‘, as Starmer called out figures who command respect in the audience. Figures like Doreen Lawrence who appeared to be present out of some sort of misguided obligation to support Starmer. It’s a classic propaganda technique and he used it more than a few times. The fact that Starmer has done little to tackle racism within the party and has no effective policies on how to tackle racism in wider society seems to have been conveniently overlooked. Some, including myself, also found it difficult to square his apparent commitment to fighting racial inequality with his over-enthusiastic jingoism and flag waving.
Anyway, so that our readers don’t have to sit through 90 minutes of peacocking by Shtarmer Fuhrer, I thought I’d take the bullet for you and produce a key notes summary, so here goes…
- Starmer had a whinge about no fuel at the pumps “level up? You can’t even fill up”. Perhaps if he hadn’t helped sabotage the 2019 general election we might not have had the hard Brexit we have today and there wouldn’t be a shortage of lorry drivers?
- He complains about fuel and gas prices going up, rents going up, gaps on supermarket shelves – again, if he hadn’t helped to split the 2019 vote and Labour had won the election, we wouldn’t be here today.
- He attacks the Tories for tax hikes on working people and small businesses and for cutting universal credit. Again I say, Starmer helped get the Tories elected when he chose to challenged the Labour leadership and insisted on running a ‘remain’ campaign rather than fighting for Labour in the 2019 general election.
- He then mentions the 2019 election defeat saying it was the worst since 1935, despite the fact that Labour took more votes in 2019 than they did in 2015, 2010 and 2005 and would have taken many more if he and his ilk hadn’t stoked the Brexit divide.
- Starmer then has the audacity to thank loyal Labour campaigners and voters for saving the party from “obliteration” after he’s been actively destroying the party from the inside and doing everything within his power to turn it into the Tory-B Party.
- He then sought to speak directly to a specific demographic of voters who he described as “the voters that thought we were unpatriotic or irresponsible or that we looked down on them” (i.e.Tory voters) and told them that under his leadership “we will never go into an election with a manifesto that is not a serious plan for government.” This was a clear attack on the socialist policies and manifesto, produced in collaboration with the party membership, under the previous leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. Let us not forget that this was a manifesto he stood by when he was in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet as Shadow Minister for Immigration (14 September 2015 – 27 June 2016) and then Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (6 October 2016 – 4 April 2020).
- He then goes on to talk about “the chronic problems revealed by Covid”.. increasing childhood poverty, growing crisis in social care, a broken housing market and asks whether we can trust the Tories to learn the lessons. He then talks instead about creating “a smart government that enlists the brilliance of scientific invention to create a prosperous economy” that could also tackle the climate crisis. Correct me if I’m wrong but this all sounds rather familiar… straight out of Labour’s 2017 and 2019 manifestos if I’m not mistaken?
- Starmer then indulges in further examples of ‘virtue by association’ as he talks about his hard working parents – his dad being a tool maker and his mum a nurse. I adored Tony Benn but I can’t stand his son Hilary. Frankly, we don’t know what political values his parents held and we certainly don’t know if Starmer shares any of them.
- He also talks about his mother’s illness and how difficult it was to watch her struggling but how grateful he was for the amazing NHS who supported her and who support so many others in their most vulnerable state. It was a moment to recognise their value and contribution but it was also an opportunity for Starmer to show try and show a more empathetic and sensitive side in order to endear himself to potential voters. Seems to me, if he really cared about the NHS and its staff, he wouldn’t have consorted to try and sabotage two Labour election campaigns in order to keep the Tories in power and give them another 8yrs within which to completely dismantle the NHS.
- After some heckling from the floor with a number of people showing him the red card, Starmer moves on to tell us how he is a keen supporter of justice. He mentions that he was Head of the Crown Prosecution Service and recalls a sad case of domestic abuse that resulted in the death of a young nurse, Jane Clough, who’s parents, John and Penny Clough, just happen to be in the audience listening to his speech. No doubt John and Penny wanted to use an opportunity like this to raise awareness and call for stronger measures to tackle the very real and serious problem of violence against women in this country, even if that opportunity might mean allowing themselves to be used to endorse the Starmer leadership. Who could blame them? I don’t! Did Starmer take advantage? Of course he did! I don’t know what was more difficult to watch, Starmer telling their heartbreaking and painful story and using it to paint a picture of his faux virtuosity or the pain and anguish on John and Penny’s face as he announced that they were sitting in the audience and then suddenly all eyes and TV cameras were on them… Jenny with tears in her eyes and John barely holding it together for nearly 40 secs of applause, which must have felt an awful lot longer to them.
- He then announces that Doreen Lawrence is in the audience (Stephen Lawrence’s mother) and explains how he admires her tireless efforts to confront racism. He then announces that, under his leadership, fighting crime will be a ‘Labour issue’. I guess I must have missed the bit where he announced some new policies on tackling racism and crime. Did he?
- Starmer goes on to express his shock that 98% of reported rape cases don’t end in a criminal charge. Why so shocked? It’s been a major issue for years and you’d think the head of criminal prosecutions would know this? Starmer then says that Labour will “fast track rape and serious sexual assault cases and we will toughen sentences for rapist, stalkers and domestic abusers” Not quite sure how that resolves the issue that 98% of cases don’t even result in a criminal charge? Reading between the lines here, I think what he’s really saying is that Labour will commit to fast-tracking the 2% of cases that do go to court and convictions will attract tougher sentences. The messaging here is confusing… perhaps deliberately so?
- Starmer exclaims “I wont stand” for anti-social behaviour, the rise in knife crime or the fact that only one in every 10 reported crimes are actually getting solved. He blames the mounting back-log of cases in crown courts, a significant drop in police officer numbers and 11yrs of Tory government. Unfortunately, again, no actual policy announcements to explain how he proposes to fix these issues.
- Starmer then spends the next few minutes talking about the Tories abusing political power and ignoring the rules. Pot-kettle-black I say, especially as he actually tried to use this very conference to change the rules in order to enable him to serve the right wing agenda. “Politics has to be clean, wrong doing has to be punished” he says and then declares that he is putting the government “on notice” for it’s rampant and self indulgent cronyism.. perhaps he’d care take his own advice?
- Starmer then asserts that he is far more credible than Boris Johnson, who he describes as “a trivial man… a showman… a trickster” and a man without a plan. Frankly, I know toddlers with more credibility than Boris Johnson, so it’s not particularly difficult to look more credible than Boris Johnson but I really must ask a crucial question here, with no policies to speak of.. ‘what, exactly, is Starmer’s plan’?
- Starmer moves on to discuss the state of the health service after a decade of Tory neglect and how that left the NHS ill equipped to take on the challenges of a pandemic. Howmany more lives could have been saved as a result? “Low earners were at greater risk, so were black and ethnic minority communities (i.e. low earners)… and it’s left in its wake a significant back-log” he says. Of course it wouldn’t have been a decade of Tory government if the Labour right hadn’t sabotaged two Labour election campaigns. How much better equipped would the NHS have been when the pandemic hit 2.5yrs later, how many more doctors and nurses would we have had, what if we’d ploughed money into the NHS rather than into the pockets of private Tory donors and how much shorter would those waiting times be today, if we’d had a Corbyn/McDonnell led socialist government in 2017?
- Starmer goes on to talk about properly funding the NHS but life expectancy is growing he says. He adds that Labour will “shift the priority of the NHS away from emergency care towards prevention.” What does that mean exactly? Moving funds away from emergency care? Fewer A&Es? Why not properly fund both?
- Labour will recruit 8,500 more mental health professionals and guarantee that mental health support will be available in less than a month, says Starmer. How long does he think it takes to train and recruit 8,500 mental health professionals? I dare say it’ll be a fair few years before he’s in a position to make good on that promise. Of course he might not even be leader of the Labour party by then. Easy to make promises you can’t keep I suppose?
- He goes on.. “under Labour, spending on mental health will never be allowed to fall”.. no mention of additional investment in mental health services though. How he’s going to deliver 8,500 more mental health professionals or fulfill his promise that every school will have support and every community will have a mental health hub are, again, questions left unanswered.
- He talks about backing advancements in medical science, something he believes will improve what happens in the operating theatre, as well as improve patient recovery times.. suggesting that it would help medical professionals to reduce the back-log.
- Starmer then goes on the attack and talks about how, in this country, the Tories have allowed public school education standards to fall so far behind private schools that “by the time they’ve finished their GCSEs, pupils from poorer families are 18 months behind their wealthier peers.” He goes on to argue that the government’s mishandling of schools during the pandemic only made matters worse and although they did appoint a “recovery zsar” they didn’t like what he had to say and just decided to ignore him. I say, again, we wouldn’t be in this situation if the Labour right hadn’t sabotaged the 2017 and 2019 general elections and, frankly, point scoring doesn’t really wash when you’ve been more than happy to prop up an utterly incompetent Tory govt and support their policies throughout your leadership.
- Starmer tells us that under a Labour govt, “education will recover” but then goes on to say that the focus will be more on developing “skills” that employers need. They want “young people who can communicate and work in a team” However he then exclaims “thats why it’s stupid to allow theatre, drama and music to collapse in state schools.” I’m all for funding the arts properly and I might be missing something here but why does he think industry employers care whether or not students study drama or music? Also, if he believes that education should be focused on “reading, writing, arithmetic and digital skills” (skills that companies are looking for he says) then is he saying that there wont be as much funding for other academic choices like politics or philosophy or counselling or media studies, for example? He adds.. “an education system that fosters the skills, that’s the foundation of an economy that works” which suggests his primary objective is building a work force to serve big business. He adds.. “after 10yrs of the Tories.. we have 5.7 million people in low paid or insecure work”, However, he provides no reassurance that this workforce will be paid a respectable wage and given that his office recently fell out with Andy McDonald, who actually resigned his front bench seat because Starmer’s office refused to back the £15 per hour minimum wage, I’d say the real focus will be on providing cheap Labour to private industries.
- Starmer then talks about investing in “strong industries” like big pharma, defence, bio-chemical and consumer goods. Presumably, these are the industries his newly created, low paid, workforce will be expected to serve. He goes on.. “under Labour’s buy, make and sell in Britain program, there will be more local procurement” and then he invokes the spirit of “the original industrial revolution” and starts rambling on about the coal and cotton and wool industries that grew out of Northern towns and the maritime and fishing economies that thrived at UK sea ports. It seems Starmer is entirely sold on the idea of a victorian style consumerism revolution but these are not industries that require a highly skilled, well paid work force, despite what Starmer claims.
- His ambition, he says, is to make Britain a world leader in science and research & development and to do this he plans to invest 3% of GDB. However, his next sound bite turned out to be even more revealing about his politics… “without a strong economy, we cannot pay for the good society..” straight out of the Tory handbook. If I read this correctly, this is Starmer advocating on behalf of money grabbing, tax evading, big business, who he see’s as the engine that will drive the next economic revolution but what he isn’t telling us is that the jobs that might be created are not likely to attract high wages, which is why he’s refusing to back the minimum wage.
- In a shocking about-turn, Starmer, a highly vocal campaigner for remaining in the EU (so much so that it cost Labour the 2019 election), tries to convey that ‘he’ is the man who can come up with “a plan to make Brexit work”
- Starmer then moves onto discussing appropriate taxation, saying that “the greater part of the burden should not fall on working people” and that he wants the burden to be shared more evenly between large and small businesses. Given that small businesses don’t have the economies of scale available to larger businesses, they are often at a greater disadvantage so, even if they are taxed at the same rate as larger businesses, they can still fail to compete. For example, the buying power of a small local electronics store is not the same as that of the purchasing department of Amazon because larger volume orders always attract greater discounts. So if you really want that small local business to succeed and grow, you need to reduce their taxes or, alternatively, you increase the tax you’re charging their larger competitors.
- Starmer then announces that Labour would set up a new quango.. “an office for value for money.” Of course, there’s me thinking that this was the job of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Perhaps this is Starmer’s attempt at trying to convince voters that Labour will be better equipped to manage the country’s finances than they were under the Blair/Brown governments, when they famously announced there was no more money left in the kitty as their 3 terms in government finally came to an end, just as the economy was tanking. After 13yrs of a Blair/Brown ‘centrist’ govt, the economy was in a nose dive and the coffers were completely empty but I guess Starmer thinks another centrist Labour government will be able to convince voters to trust a govt quango, set up and paid for by the govt, to keep an eye on and be able to influence the chancellor.
- Starmer then moves on to how he proposes to tackle climate change by “shifting the economy onto a sustainable path” and gives examples of emerging industries that could significantly reduce human impact on climate change. Starmer declared.. “Labour will bring forward a green new deal.” Not surprisingly, this policy, which is taken straight out of the 2017 and 2019 Labour manifestos, got a standing ovation and the applause went on for nearly 30 seconds. Other announcements that also came straight out of the 2017 & 2019 manifestos were that a Labour govt would bring back it’s plans to make every ‘new’ home zero carbon and ‘fit-out’ every home that needs insulation to improve it’s energy efficiency and also that Labour “will introduce a Clean Air Act.”
- Starmer then moves onto attacking the government’s record… “under the Tories, wages have fallen in every English region, local government has been cut to the bone, more than half a million more children live in poverty.. and so do half a million more pensioners and for the first time in decades, life expectancy has stalled.” Starmer argues that given what we’ve witnessed, from the Tories, it is hard to believe that the phrase “levelling-up” is anything more than just a slogan. He refers them to the previous Labour government’s track record on levelling-up in case they needed any ideas. No need I say, just refer them to Labour’s 2019 manifesto, it’s all there and more and, can I just remind Starmer it was a Blair government that introduced the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998 which then introduced a means-tested method of payment for students based on the amount of money their families earned and replaced maintenance grants (for living expenses) with hefty loans that left them in serious debt. Also, perhaps he’d like to explain to us all how the previous Labour government’s obsession with PFI contracts helped with the whole levelling-up agenda?
- He cites the comparative performance of Labour Mayor’s, local authority leaders and the Welsh Labour government, as if to imply that Starmer’s Labour Party would be fully aligned with their socialist policies. Naturally, this attracted some heckling from left wing delegates.
- Starmer then goes on to attack the SNP. He declares.. “I believe in the union of the nations on these islands,” basically telling Scottish voter’s that, on the issue of Scotland’s independence, Starmer’s Labour are no different to the Tories. He then goes on to argue that the SNP’s track record is in “lock-step” with that of the Tories. “Labour is the party that wants to bring our nations together!” he says. Frankly, he can’t even bring Labour party members together. He then praises Anas Sarwar, the newly appointed Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, claiming that under Sarwar, “Labour is the party of the union.” I’m fairly confident the Tories would challenge that claim.
- Surprisingly, Starmer then claims that the Tories are engaged in a “culture war” designed to create divisions. The fact that Starmer is himself engaged in a sort of culture war within his own party and that he has repeatedly failed to immediately call out Tory ministers who engage in demeaning and often racialised or Islamophobic attacks has been conveniently brushed over. It seems that Starmer only cares about the ‘culture war’ when it serves his ambition. Take the EURO’s for example. Gareth Southgate and his team were openly in support of taking the knee throughout the tournament. Here’s Southgate on the 5th of June, explaining his and his teams position on taking the knee and how determined they are to take a stand. It took Starmer over a month to come out in support of Southgate and his team, eventually writing an article in the Mirror on 12th July. Starmer waited over 5 weeks to test the water before responding and by July it was evident that there had been a ground swell of public opinion in support of the England teams decision.
- Starmer then moves on to talk about how proud he is in the British military and in the work they did in Afghanistan. He goes on.. “Labour is the party of NATO, the party of international alliances. Under Labour we will rebuild our alliances, we will mend broken relationships and we will do right by the great Britons who served in our armed forces.” In this context, when he talks about rebuilding international alliances, he’s talking about re-building military alliances so the question that naturally follows is “to what end?” Military alliances are formed by identifying a common enemy or goal or there’s no point in forming an alliance. Who will it be this time? Another Muslim country they can bleed dry (literally)? China? Russia?
- Towards the end of his speech, Starmer offer’s a retrospective view (his view) of Labour’s performance against the Tories over the past few years. He suggests that Labour was devastated in the 2019 election, despite the fact that Labour won 10,269,076 votes.. more than they took in 2015, 2010 and 2005 and almost as much as they took in 2001. and of course he doesn’t mention how the Labour right colluded with opposition party’s to sabotage the Labour campaign by pushing for a 2nd referendum and he certainly doesn’t mention the part that he personally played in that melodrama. Perhaps we can remind him of that?..
- Starmer then talks about envisioning Labour’s electoral success and how a Labour government will be able to “start to write the next chapter in our nations history.. bending it towards the values that bring us, year after year, to this conference hall to seek a better way.” In this statement, Starmer seems completely out of touch with reality. There’s a large section of the Labour membership who believe that Starmer does not share their values or their ambitions and the deep divisions within the Labour Party are a screaming testimony to that. There’s also a question of trust. Starmer was elected Labour leader by the membership because he made a number of promises – 10 pledges – and so far he’s demonstrated zero commitment to fulfilling those pledges. In fact, Starmer has recently declared that he would happily ditch the pledges he made to the Labour membership who elected him leader, if he thought it meant it would make the party more electable. Imagine hiring someone because they had a great CV only to later find out it was all a pack of lies and then not being able to sack them even though they’re damaging your business and your reputation. Would you trust another word that came out of his mouth? Of course not!
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